Monday, August 15, 2011

F-16C/Ds for Taiwan no go

No F-16C/Ds will be sold to Taiwan, though the upgrade program on its F-16A/Bs will proceed and will include AESA radar as a sweetener.  But here's the catch: only one wing is to be retrofitted, rather than the whole 146 aircraft

Taiwan will not be getting the 66 F-16C/D aircraft it has been requesting since 2007, a Ministry of National Defense official has confirmed, and fewer of its older F-16s will be retrofitted, news that could strike a blow to President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration as it heads into elections next January.

“We are so disappointed in the United States,” the official told Defense News on the sidelines of the Taipei Aerospace and Defense Technology Exhibition (TADTE), which ended on Saturday, blaming the decision on pressure from Beijing.

The article, released last night and written by the magazine’s Asia Bureau chief, Wendell Minnick, said a US Department of Defense delegation had arrived in Taiwan last week to deliver the news to Taipei and that as an alternative it had offered to secure the upgrade package for Taiwan’s ageing fleet of F-16A/B aircraft.

“The US Pentagon is here explaining what is in the upgrade package,” a US defense industry source told the magazine. “They are going to split the baby: no C/Ds, but the A/B upgrade is going forward.”

“The switch is meant to soften the blow of denying new planes to Taipei,” a source at Lockheed Martin, maker of the F-16, told Defense News.

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

No comments: